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Thomas Mulcair shares the stage with his wife, Catherine Pinhas, after winning the NDP leadership in Toronto March 24, 2012.MIKE CASSESE/Reuters

New Democrats have elected a leader who promises to take the party further into the terrain that was once the domain of Liberals to bolster the chances of unseating the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

By 57.2 per cent of the vote, Thomas Mulcair, the former provincial Liberal in Quebec who helped deliver his province to the NDP in the last election, emerged the victor in the leadership race after four long ballots and seven months of campaigning. The party immediately handed him the keys to Stornoway, the residence of the Leader of the Official Opposition.

The final vote was a showdown between Mr. Mulcair and Brian Topp, the former party leader who was supported by many of the people closest to late leader Jack Layton, in part to stop Mr. Mulcair's bid for the top job.

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